Hey guys it’s Greg with Apple Explained, and today we’re going to explore how the
Apple logo went from this complicated illustration in 1976 to the iconic symbol we know and love
today. This topic won last week’s voting poll and if you didn’t get to vote, make
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Now, Apple is arguably the most iconic brand in history and their logo is universally recognizable.
It’s simplicity and straightforward aesthetic makes this a timeless symbol to represent
the most valuable company in the world. But the Apple logo hasn’t always looked this
way. In fact, you may not recognize their logo from 1976. To be honest, it looked more
like an illustration. Now you may be wondering what the heck Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak
were thinking when creating this logo. But you’d be asking the wrong people, since
it was Ron Wayne, Apple’s third co-founder, who made this drawing. It was created with
India ink and featured Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree reading a book. A fabric
banner surrounded the image that said “Apple Computer Co.” but there was more text featured
on the picture’s frame. If you look closely, you just might be able to make it out: “Newton...
‘A Mind Forever Voyaging Through Strange Seas of Thought... Alone.’” The quote
is from the romantic English poet William Wordsworth, who in “The Prelude, Book Third:
Residence of Cambridge” wrote:
And from my pillow, looking forth by light Of moon or favoring stars, I could behold
The antechapel where the statue stood Of Newton with his prism and silent face,
The marble index of a mind for ever Voyaging through strange seas of Thought,
Now this logo clearly had some artistic value, but as you can imagine, Steve Jobs wasn’t
a fan. He argued that Apple should have a more stylish logo and thought this logo could
be part of the reason for the Apple 1’s slow sales. And he may have been right. The
illustrated logo was too intellectual for a technology company and it was simply too
complicated to reproduce on computers or in small sizes. Jobs then asked Rob Janoff to
design a new logo. Janoff was the art director of Regis McKenna Advertising who had helped
Compaq, America Online, and Intel develop brand identities in their early years. Steve
knew the Apple II was going to be launched on April 17th 1977 at West Coast Computer
Fair, and he wanted Apple to have a fresh, modern look.
Rob Janoff started with a silhouette of a black apple on a white background, but felt
that something was missing. A play on words that Apple had previously used in advertising
for the Apple I may have helped Janoff get the idea that a bite should be taken out of
the apple. But Janoff said he included the bite “for scale, so people understood that
it was an apple and not a cherry. But Bill Kelley, who also worked for Regis McKenna
Advertising, remembered the story a bit differently. He said that the bite was symbolic of acquiring
knowledge, a biblical reference to eve eating from the tree of knowledge.
Janoff then added colored stripes to the apple logo because of the Apple II’s impressive
color capabilities, and Steve Jobs himself specified many of the hues that were include.
And this Apple logo was in fact used at the Apple II’s launch in April 1997. But there
was a big problem with this colorful version of the Apple logo… It was very complicated
to print. You see, printing colored strips side by side has to be done in separate steps.
And if just one strip is misplaced, it will overlap with the other colors and have to
be redone. This meant printing the Apple logo was an expensive process. Janoff suggested
that the colored stripes be separated by thin black lines, which would make printing much
cheaper. But Steve Jobs spared no expense and demanded that the logo should remain as
The Director of European Operations at Apple Computer had this to say about the legendary
Apple logo: “One of the deep mysteries to me is our logo, the symbol of lust and knowledge,
bitten into, all crossed with the colors of the rainbow in the wrong order. You couldn’t
dream of a more appropriate logo: lust, knowledge, hope, and anarchy.”
Now although the Apple logo had been developed, the Apple type still underwent some changes
back in those days. At first, the Apple logo was accompanied by the text “apple computer
inc.” in the Motter Tektura typeface which was designed by Otmer Motter in 1975 and was
quite new when Apple started using it. Over the years, Apple made some changes to the
logotype to make it a little more stylish in advertising. In the early 80’s they shortened
“Apple Computer Inc.” to “Apple”, as you can see in this advertisement for the
In 1984, just in time for the original Macintosh introduction, Apple dropped the Motter Tektura
typeface and replaced it with the more sophisticated Garamond. But Apple actually had their own
custom version of the typeface called Apple Garamond. This was also when Apple began featuring
their logo by itself, although they usually included their slogan “think different”
in advertising and printed materials.
Apple’s rainbow logo remained unchanged during Steve Jobs’ absence from the company,
but the typography was updated from Apple Garamond to Gill Sans. And Jobs made another
mark on the Apple logo when he returned in 1997. Because for the first time, Apple featured
a solid white logo on the Powerbook G3 lid, and its box featured solid black and white
Apple logos. Now, the operating system, Mac OS 8, still used the rainbow logo but this
changed in 2001 with the introduction of Mac OS X.
Now, as this monochrome logo began being used on the lid of Apple’s PowerBooks and iBooks,
a design issue arose. Which way should the Apple logo face? The answer may seem obvious
today, but it wasn’t so clear in the late 90’s. There was a time when Apple logos
were actually upside down on the lid of their notebooks, Joe Moreno, a former Apple employee,
explained it this way:
“About a dozen years ago we had some discussions at Apple about the placement of the logo on
the back of Apple’s laptops. Apple has an internal system called Can We Talk? where
any employee can raise questions on most any subject. So we asked, ‘Why is the Apple
logo upside down on laptops when the lid is open?’”
And the answer? Because Steve Jobs wanted it that way. He wanted to make sure that when
a user sat down in front of their closed notebook, the Apple logo was facing towards them; he
didn’t care how it appeared to an onlooker. Jobs believed this was an important detail
because his design group noticed that users constantly tried to open the laptop from the
wrong end. And Jobs always focused on providing the best possible user experience and believed
that it was more important to satisfy the users needs rather than the onlookers.
But just a few years later, Steve reversed his decision and turned the Apple logo around.
Moreno concluded that “opening a laptop from the wrong end is a self-correcting problem
that only lasts for a few seconds. However, viewing the upside logo is a problem that
Ken Segall, who worked closely with Jobs on advertising, summed up the issue quite well.
He said, “Which was more important — to make the
logo look right to the owner before the PowerBook was opened, or to have it look right to the
rest of the world when the machine was in use?
Look around today and the answer is pretty obvious. Every laptop on earth has a logo
that’s right-side up when the machine is opened. Back then, it wasn’t so obvious,
probably because laptops were not yet ubiquitous. Looking back, it borders on the unbelievable
that something so wrong could ever have seemed right. That Steve Jobs ever wrestled with
this decision only proves one thing: being right in retrospect is much easier than being
right in real time.”
Now, shortly after the switch to their monochrome Apple logo, things started to get a bit colorful
with the Bondi Blue iMac in 1998. The logo appeared embossed in a translucent blue veneer
that resembled its appearance on the iMac. And this design was carried through to the
fruit-colored iMacs the following year. Now this time period was a bit awkward for the
Apple logo. It appeared monochrome on Apple’s PowerBook, but was stylized with color and
translucence on the iMac and iBook. And the operating system was still using the rainbow
Apple logo which was beginning to look outdated.
But these inconsistencies were straightened out in 2001 with the release of Mac OS X.
Its aqua interface meant Apple had to design a new logo to match, and that started the
aqua Apple logo era. The typography was also revised two years later from Gill Sans to
Myriad. But I should mention that Apple didn’t use their aqua logo in every case. For example,
products like the iPod and Mac mini used Apple’s monochrome logo in addition to printed materials
like brochures and even software packaging. Apple’s website didn’t even feature their
aqua-style logo. So there was often a tug-of-war between the flashy aqua logo and the flat
monochrome logo until Apple made an effort to streamline these two styles.
They accomplished this by creating the new chrome logo in 2007 which they used on their
website, in advertisements, during iOS startup and shut down, in Mac OS X’s About This
Mac window, and in printed material. Although this wasn’t the only style of logo Apple
used during this time, it was a step forward in making their logo appear more uniform across
different platforms and materials.
Now in 2013 Apple's design language began to shift from three dimensional to two dimensional,
and this meant a much flatter logo. Apple essentially went back to using their monochrome
logo from the late 90s. And this meant no matter where you saw an Apple logo, it would
look exactly the same. No stylization, no embellishments, just a flat logo that looked
the same, from the MacBook Pro’s lid to the iPhone’s manual to the Apple Store.
This change marked a true unification of the Apple logo’s design. I should also add that
Apple’s signature typography was updated in 2015 with the release of the Apple Watch.
It used Apple’s new San Francisco typeface which eventually replaced Myriad on all Apple’s
operating systems and printed materials.
Now I think the most recent Apple logo design is the absolute best. After all, it looks
as good today as it did in the 90s and I don’t think Apple will be changing it anytime soon.
But what do you think? Should Apple change their logo? Maybe they could go back to one
of their previous designs. Let me know what you think in the comments. And if you want
to vote for the next video topic, don’t forget to subscribe. Thanks for watching,
and I’ll see you next time.